Analysis News
Visit our Hebrew site, "Local Call" , in partnership with Just Vision.

Israeli conscientious objector sentenced to 30 days in prison

After 18 months of service in the Israeli army, Roman Levin told his commanders that he was no longer willing to participate in the oppression of the Palestinian people. ‘When I visited Ukraine, I encountered disrespect toward Jews. This is how my empathy for the Palestinian people developed.’

The Israeli army sentenced 19-year-old Roman Levin to 30 days in prison on Tuesday for refusing to continue serving due to his opposition to Israel’s occupation.

Levin, from the city of Bat Yam, just south of Tel Aviv, immigrated to Israel with a few members of his family from Ukraine when he was 3 years old. Around 18 months ago he enlisted in the army, believing his service would contribute to society and fulfill his duties as a citizen.

Mesarvot, a grassroots network that brings together individuals and groups who refuse to enlist in the IDF in protest of the occupation, accompanied Levin as he was taken to Prison 6.

In his refusal statement, Levin wrote:

My refusal is an act of protest against the occupation that has been going on for more than 50 years, and an act of solidarity with the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip.

When I visited my family in Ukraine, I encountered disrespect toward Jews, and in Israel, too, my friends and I were treated with contempt for our different ethnicity and culture. This is how my empathy for the oppressed Palestinian people developed. There’s a civil war going on in the Ukraine, and when I visited there a few months ago I met soldiers who have no idea what they’re fighting for, and end up dead. I could relate to them, because I, too, don’t believe in Israel’s military policies, which are predominantly about maintaining the occupation. This experience led me to think about the meaning of my military service.

I refuse to keep participating in the oppression of the Palestinian people. In the [occupied] territories, more and more settlements are being built while Palestinians are subjected to policies of land confiscations and home demolitions. Since 2006, Israel has destroyed more than 2,000 homes in the occupied territories. Palestinians have limited freedom of movement, both inside their homeland and when traveling outside of it, as the Palestinian passport is ranked 189th in the world, and in the Gaza Strip this right is revoked entirely.

I served in the army as a...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

How to turn human rights activists into 'traitors' in a few easy steps

The Israeli right’s years-long effort to portray Breaking the Silence as traitors fell flat on its face this last week. Will the media or the politicians who incited against them apologize?

One day in the future, when high school students learn about the transformation of Israel from a nationalistic fortress state into a fascistic one, an entire chapter will be dedicated to the persecution of left-wing activists and human rights groups. The chapter will describe at length the role of three central bodies in this destructive process: extreme-right organizations, the media, and politicians from across the political spectrum.

One of the lessons, presumably, will be dedicated to Breaking the Silence, an anti-occupation group that publishes testimonies by former IDF combat soldiers about their service in the West Bank and Gaza. The organization, which has been the target of the right for much of the past decade, was cleared of criminal wrongdoing earlier this week after Israel’s attorney general said he wouldn’t launch an investigation against the group for illegally collecting and possession military intelligence.

Those allegations first surfaced three years ago when Channel 2 News broadcasted an “exclusive investigative report,” based entirely on materials gathered by right-wing moles from Ad Kan who infiltrated Breaking the Silence with hidden cameras and fake monikers. The report suggested the organization illegally collected and published classified information on IDF operations, handed over sensitive intelligence to hostile groups, and turned new army recruits into spies.

The report aired not long after Channel 2 broadcasted an investigative report into the alleged criminal activities of Ta’ayush, another anti-occupation group. That footage was also gathered by Ad Kan activists, leading to the persecution of a number of the Ta’ayush’s most prominent members. Right-wing organizations quickly understood that Ad Kan’s strategy works: sling mud at left-wing and human rights groups, and something will surely stick.

SUBSCRIBE TO +972 MAGAZINE'S WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

The right’s incitement began immediately following the report on Breaking the Silence. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that a “red line has been crossed.” Then-Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said the IDF would investigate the organization, going so far as to calling them “traitors.” Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked accused Breaking the Silence of espionage.

The incitement extended far beyond the Israeli right. Politicians from the center-left also took advantage of the story for political capital: Yair Lapid declared that “Breaking the Silence is undermining the State of...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

Israel's Nation-State Law also discriminates against Mizrahi Jews

Mizrahi academics and activists demand Israel’s High Court strike down the Jewish Nation-State Law, saying it erases their cultural legacy and perpetuates injustices against both them and Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Over 50 prominent Israeli Jews of Mizrahi origin filed a petition to the High Court of Justice on Tuesday demanding it strike down the Jewish Nation-State Law, saying it discriminates against both Palestinian citizens and Jewish Mizrahi citizens of Israel.

According to the petition, the law, which demotes Arabic from an official language to one with “special status,” is “anti-Jewish” for excluding the history and culture of Jews from Arab and Muslim countries, “while strengthening the impression that Jewish-Arab culture is inferior…and anchoring the identity of the State of Israel as anti-Arab.”

The petition, which was written and submitted by Attorney Netta Amar-Shiff, also refers to a clause in the law that establishes Jewish settlement “as a national value.” According to the petitioners, every time Israel takes it upon itself to demographically “re-engineer” the land, it harms Mizrahim by pushing them into the country’s underserved geographical periphery. This process hinders their access to highly-valued land through admissions committees, which allow communities across the country to reject housing applicants based on their “social suitability.”

Among the signatories are renowned author Sami Michael, Professor Yehuda Shenhav, Professor Henriette Dahan-Kalev, Israeli Black Panther and social justice activist Reuven Abergil, among others. (Full disclosure: the writer is one of the signatories of the petition). According to the petitioners, Mizrahim were largely excluded from the law’s formulation, despite the fact that it would affect their community’s right to preserve its heritage, and that its blatant anti-Arab bias would adversely affect Jews from Arab countries.

Following Israel’s establishment, authorities did everything they could to suppress Arab identity and culture among immigrants from Arab and Muslim countries through a forced “melting pot” doctrine, leaving them both materially and culturally disenfranchised. More than six decades ago, Israeli diplomat and Arabic scholar Abba Eban said: “The goal must be to instill in them a Western spirit, and not let them drag us into an unnatural Orient. One of the biggest fears… is the danger that the large number of immigrants of Mizrahi origin will force Israel to compare how cultured we are to our neighbors.”

For 70 years, this worldview formed the basis for how Israel viewed Mizrahim. The political establishment demanded Mizrahi Jews renounce their Arab identity,...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

How did revenge become a military objective?

When Israeli military commanders call bereaved families from the field to confirm they’ve gunned down their child’s accused killer, security considerations are not at play — that’s just an army exacting revenge.

There is something almost spellbinding about the speed with which the Israeli government is tearing off the masks that once afforded its policies a veneer of decency. From the Jewish Nation-State Law to the cultural loyalty law to the law to legalize settlement outposts, from Prime Minister Netanyahu’s anti-Semitic friends to the blatant racism of his son who publicly yearns for a country cleansed of Palestinians — official Israel is not even pretending anymore. Everything is out in the open now.

This trend is also being reflected in the operations and policies of the Israeli army. Without any way of providing Israeli citizens with security and quiet in a reality of endless military occupation, it seems that the army’s main way of dealing with the Palestinians is sowing fear and collective punishment. This is done through demolishing homes belonging to family members of those who carry out violent attacks, a move that has been repeatedly deemed as ineffective by high-ranking officials in the army itself; through frequent raids of Palestinian cities supposedly under the full control of the Palestinian Authority, carrying out mass arrests that severely harm the PA’s image as an autonomous government; and by opening fire on unarmed protesters in Gaza.

Now the army has added another operational objective: exacting revenge on behalf of bereaved Israeli families. When Israeli security forces killed Ashraf Na’alowa, the Palestinian accused of murdering Kim Levengrond-Yehezkel and Ziv Hajbi at the Barkan Industrial Zone earlier this year, one of the first people to be notified was Rafi Levengrond, Kim’s father, who was briefed by the IDF Central command within five minutes of Na’alowa’s death. “It was important for me to inform you […] before it was published in the media,” Levengrond was told.

The family of Sgt. Ronen Lubarski, who was killed earlier this year during a raid on Al-Amari refugee camp, were also briefed as the family home of Islam Abu Hamid, the accused killer, was demolished over the weekend. “This morning, the commander called me from the field while the house was being destroyed,” Ronen’s father, Vladimir Lubarski, told Ynet. “It was important for him to speak to me first.”

Crowdfund banner 600px

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

Israeli parents protest arrests of Palestinian children in central Tel Aviv

A group of Israeli parents mark International Day for the Rights of the Child by raising awareness of the conditions of Palestinian minors in Israeli custody.

For the majority of Israelis, stories of mass arrests of Palestinians in the occupied territories are nothing new. And yet, the Israeli mainstream rarely hears about Palestinian children who are routinely rounded up from their beds in the middle of the night and taken into detention. That’s why on Tuesday, which marked International Day for the Rights of the Child, a group of Israeli activists read testimonies by Palestinian minors arrested by Israeli security forces in the heart of Tel Aviv.

The event was organized by a group named “Parents Against Child Arrests,” who seek to raise public awareness over the issue of child arrests. Nirith Ben-Horin, a social worker and mother of two, says she decided to act after realizing that these kinds of arrests are a routine matter in the occupied territories.

“I am a social worker, I work with families who make such a great effort to stay together,” says Ben-Horin. “The thought of tearing apart a child from his home, from his parents, from the safety of the world he knows, and doing so without the understanding that this is a child we are talking about — it’s very difficult.”

“I felt that I could not stand aside and do nothing,” Ben-Horin said. “We began holding meetings once every two weeks to brainstorm and see what we could do. In June we opened up a Facebook page that we update with testimonies provided by Hamoked — Center for the Defense of the Individual. We also work with Military Court Watch, which takes testimonies from minors after they are released and publish them in English and Arabic.”

According to statistics provided to B’Tselem by the Israel Prison Service, at the end of August 2018, 239 Palestinian minors were being held as “security prisoners” in Israeli jails, including three in administrative detention. Under administrative detention, detainees are held indefinitely without charge or trial — and with out any way to defend themselves — on the basis of secret evidence. Such orders can be renewed indefinitely for up to six months at a time.

SUBSCRIBE TO +972 MAGAZINE'S WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

“Our primary goal is to raise awareness over this issue in Israel and internationally, and to create pressure on the legal, military, and...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

The Israeli activists helping protect the Palestinian olive harvest

For the past decade and a half, dozens of left-wing Israeli activists have come together to accompany Palestinians to their groves during the olive harvest. Despite recurring settler violence, the situation has improved over the years.

It had become like the opening ceremony of the olive harvest season: last Wednesday, Israeli settlers uprooted 40 olive trees in Turmusaya, a small Palestinian village north of Ramallah. Palestinian farmers face settler violence throughout the year, but it is during the olive harvest that the attacks increase dramatically.

For the past 16 years, a group of left-wing organizations have banded together to try and stop the attacks. The Harvest Coalition, made up of groups such as Ta’ayush, Rabbis for Human Rights, Coalition of Women for Peace, and Combatants for Peace, among others, has enlisted Israeli volunteers to join Palestinian farmers in areas that are more prone to violence. The very presence of Israeli activists can provide the farmers with the bare minimum of protection in the occupied territories.

The coalition was formed in 2002 by 82-year-old Yaakov Manor, a veteran Israeli human rights activist.

“I first heard about the problem of settlers attacking Palestinian farmers in the 90s,” says Manor. “I was in charge of Peace Now’s dialogue committee, and traveled to many villages. One time I received a phone call from friends in Nablus who said, ‘We have a big problem in Burin, they won’t let them harvest.’ So we decided to join them. I did not understand the severity of the issue at the time; none of us did, since in those years Palestinians did not speak much about these kinds of attacks. The joint harvest did not end up taking place, since the Islamic Movement was strong in the Nablus area, and they didn’t want Jews going into the villages.

SUBSCRIBE TO +972 MAGAZINE'S WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

“The real beginning of the joint harvests was during the Second Intifada, when I was already active with Ta’ayush. We received an urgent phone call from the village of Yasuf, next to Kfar Tapuach, which used be heavily Kahanist. I went there with Rabbi Arik Ascherman from Rabbis for Human Rights, we saw the settlers who invaded the village land, they attacked the Palestinians and tried to kick us out. The army always had an easier time dispersing the Palestinians and Israeli activists, so that’s what they did. Afterward we heard stories that...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

Judge: Israeli police 'scandalous' for trying to deport U.S.-French activist

Instead of bringing to court Frank Romano, who was arrested trying to block an Israeli army bulldozer in Khan al-Ahmar, Israeli police tried to deport him without notifying his lawyer or the court. Judge orders him released.

After taking the nearly unprecedented step of arresting a foreign national under Israeli military law, Israeli police openly defied the country’s civilian court system by simply deciding not to bring French-American professor and activist Frank Romano to his own detention hearing, instead spiriting him off to a deportation hearing without ever informing his lawyer — or the court.

After ordering police to bring Romano back to her courtroom from an airport deportation facility where he was about to be put on a plane to the United States, Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Judge Chavi Toker rebuked Israeli police for what she called their “scandalous” behavior and ordered Roman released pending appeal.

Romano was arrested by Israeli authorities on Friday after putting his body in front of an Israeli military bulldozer preparing for the demolition and forced displacement of Khan al-Ahmar, a Palestinian village Israel plans to destroy in its entirety in the coming days. In a highly unusual step, Roman was arrested under Israeli military law instead of Israeli civilian law.

Israeli civilians are subject to Israeli civilian law while in the West Bank but Palestinians are subject to Israeli military law, which have different rules, standards, and often punishments. Foreign nationals are rarely put into the military system.

Under Israeli civilian law police must bring a suspect before a judge within 24 hours of arresting them, while under military law authorities can wait 96 hours before bringing an arrestee to court for a detention hearing. Romano’s lawyer, Gaby Lasky, had requested that his detention hearing be held in a civilian court, which was granted and scheduled for 4 p.m. on Sunday — over two days after his arrest.

Instead of bringing Romano to court at 4 p.m., however, at 2 p.m. Israeli police transferred him to the custody of immigration officials, who held a deportation hearing without informing Lasky or the court and were preparing to put him on a plane to the United States. (Romano lives in France.)

According to Lasky, the decision to book her client under military law instead of into the civilian justice system was made in order to give them time to deport him before he saw a judge, which, she...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

IDF detains South Hebron Hills tour organizers, days after settler attack there

Israeli soldiers detained senior members of Breaking the Silence and a human rights attorney in an attempt to block a tour of the South Hebron Hills, where settlers attacked six left-wing activists last week.

By Orly Noy

Breaking the Silence planned a tour in the South Hebron Hills on Friday, as a token of solidarity with the six Ta’ayush activists who were attacked there last week by settlers from the nearby illegal outpost of Mitzpe Yair. But before they could arrive to the tour location, several buses carrying hundreds of participants were stopped and delayed by military forces for over an hour.

The soldiers handed the tour organizers a military order which allows them to restrict who may enter certain areas in the West Bank. As expected, the order applied exclusively to the participants of the tour – settlers can move as they wish in that space. Among the participants were Member of Knesset Mossi Raz, a politician with the left-leaning Meretz party, and former Attorney General Michael Ben-Yair.

About an hour into the delay, the IDF removed the roadblock, and the tour went on as planned. Until the buses arrived at the entrance of the Mitzpe Yair outpost, that is – the same location of last week’s attacks. There, the soldiers confronted the tour participants again, and detained three of them: director of Breaking the Silence Avner Gvaryahu, the organization’s communications director, Achiya Schatz, and human rights attorney Michael Sfard.

One of the tour participants said: “On our way to Mitzpe Yair, a military jeep stopped us and would not let us pass. We got off the bus, and a few minutes later another jeep arrived with military officers who said that this was a closed military zone, and that we must quickly board the bus again and leave. Obviously, it was not quick – we waited while lawyer Michael Sfard and Avner Gvaryahu stepped aside to speak with the military officers. Suddenly, another jeep arrived with border police forces, and their commander decided to detain Avner and Achiya. He selected them one after the other, without an apparent reason why.”

“When we tried to leave the place, the bus could not make a turn because of the narrow access road. Security forces then decided to strip the Palestinian bus drivers of their licenses, and give them tickets for entering a road they could not get out of – except...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

'Spilling enemy blood is allowed': After settler attack, Israeli activists speak out

Four left-wing Israeli activists were taken to a hospital after being violently attacked by settlers in the West Bank on Saturday. Violence by settlers against activists has grown more common over the past few months, yet it seems the authorities are doing very little to stop it.

When I heard the initial reports that settlers from the illegal outpost of Mitzpe Yair, in the south Hebron Hills, violently attacked a group of left-wing Israeli activists, I remembered the briefing I underwent in that exact same spot two years ago. “Be very careful,” one of the activists told me. “The settlers can come out of nowhere, and they are not afraid to use violence. They are always ready.” On Saturday, that same activist was one of six who were attacked and hospitalized.

Pepe Goldman, 66, was also among the six who were attacked. “Now I am okay,” he told me a few hours after the incident. “It hurts a bit, but it is okay. I was hit in my ribcage, but luckily nothing was broken.” As for the other activists, Goldman said, one needed stitches for a deep wound on his arm, another may have a fractured pelvis, another had his foot dislocated, and an activist who was thrown to the ground needed medical treatment in Jerusalem.

Goldman has been active with Ta’ayush, a left-wing Israeli organization, which has been documenting settlement expansion and protecting Palestinian shepherds from settler violence, for two years. “We left as we do every Saturday morning at 6 a.m. to accompany shepherds. Sometimes when we notice illegal settlement construction on our drive we stop to take photos and pass on the documentation to the Civil Administration. Most of the time nothing happens, maybe some cursing or shoving. Usually when we arrive, the army declares the area a closed military zone — closed off to us, that is. Not to the settlers.”

“Today, after we were done accompanying the shepherds, as we were heading back to Jerusalem, we heard that the army had entered a Palestinian home in the area and confiscated phones, work tools, etc. without a warrant. We came, wrote down the information, and headed to Mitzpe Yair, where we wanted to photograph new, illegal construction. When we reached the site, the IDF asked us to leave, but did not prevent us from taking photos.”

SUBSCRIBE TO +972 MAGAZINE'S WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

But then came...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

How one law exposes what Israel has always tried to hide

From the moment it was established, Israel granted its Jewish citizens privileges at the expense of Palestinians. The ‘nation-state bill’ reveals the choice Israelis have to make about the future of their country.

Years ago, American journalist Ted Koppel hosted a fascinating televised debate between Rabbi Meir Kahane, the far-right anti-Arab leader, and Ehud Olmert, then a fresh-faced Knesset member from the Likud party. As the Israeli parliament is set to approve the Nation-State Law, which would enshrine discrimination against non-Jews in Israel, it is worth going back and paying close attention to the debate.

Kahane laid out his political vision without qualms. “Israelis, and especially those in power, are afraid that I will ask them the following question,” he says calmly. “Do the Arabs in Israel have the democratic right to sit quietly, democratically, and give birth to enough children to become the majority? They are afraid that I’ll ask the question. In Israel, currently, without Kahane in power, there is a law that allows Jews to receive citizenship from the mere fact that they ask for it, and that does not allow non-Jews to lease state land. Kahane did not legislate these laws. These are laws that were originally passed by the Labor Party.”

Olmert, an exceptional rhetorician, found himself stumbling to respond, retorting instead to an embarrassing discussion of chance and probability. And for good reason. Free of the shackles of political correctness and democratic veneers, Kahane was able to reveal the true face of Zionism in Israel: an inherent, perpetual demographic war against its Palestinian citizens. If Israel seeks to be Jewish and democratic, it needs to actively ensure a Jewish majority.

It is surprising therefore that it was the clause in the Nation-State Law that allows for the establishment of Jewish-only communities that has brought about so much opposition. After all, the Zionist project in Israel, since its inception, was one of re-engineering the land. This forms the basis for the state’s attitude and treatment of Palestinians — whether it is ethnic cleansing in the West Bank, forbidding family reunification, the Law of Return, or the fact that since Israel’s founding, not a new single Arab town has been established, save for some Bedouin townships in the south, built to stop the Bedouin population from expanding.

SUBSCRIBE TO +972 MAGAZINE'S WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

The Jewish public in Israel...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

The West Bank villages under threat no one is talking about

While the media focused on Khan al-Ahmar’s nonviolent struggle against its destruction, Israeli authorities demolished 12 structures in a nearby Bedouin community, laying the groundwork for further evictions. 

Israel is fighting a war of attrition against the Bedouin villages east of Jerusalem. And yet, despite the looming threat of wholesale demolition and eviction, the villagers can finally breathe easy, after the High Court of Justice night froze the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar until July 16. This, of course, is far from a victory; ever since the same court gave the green light to the demolition in May, the villagers have been counting the days until their expulsion.

Over the past few weeks, the village has been the site of activity by Palestinian, Jewish, and international activists, as well as security forces who have been preparing for the eviction. The IDF has declared the area a closed military zone — refusing entry even to diplomats — all while paving access roads that will eventually be used to carry out the demolition.

Things reached a boiling point last Wednesday, when security forces clashed with activists who attempted to block Israeli bulldozers. The village remained untouched, yet the destruction Israel is meting out against the Bedouin communities of E1 is simply a matter of time and place. While the media was focused on Khan al-Ahmar, the Civil Administration demolished 12 structures in the adjacent Bedouin village of Abu Nuwar, leaving 62 people — half of them children — without a roof over their heads, in the summer heat.

One of them is Harba Hamadin, a young construction worker, husband, and father to a one year old. Following the demolition of their home, the family moved in with his parents in a packed structure with another 15 people. His brother and cousin also lost their homes, as did their children, nine in total. All of the kids, says Harba, witnessed the demolition, and have been in a state of deep anxiety ever since. “The demolition orders are from three years ago,” he says as he stands by the ruins of his home. “I do not know why they came now. The attorney says they need to give a month’s notice, but they said nothing.” Like Khan al-Ahmar, the state wants to move the residents of Abu Nuwar to a garbage dump next to Abu Dis in East Jerusalem. “This will destroy our entire community,” Harba says. “That isn’t our land, and the...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

IDF releases conscientious objector after 100 days in military prison

Brachfeld had declared her refusal ‘to take part in the oppression of the Palestinian people.’ It is very rare for the army to grant conscientious objector status to non-religious Jewish Israelis. A new lawsuit seeks to change that.

The Israeli army discharged conscientious objector Ayelet Brachfeld on Tuesday after imprisoning her for 100 days. Israel has compulsory military service, and Brachfeld refused to be drafted due to her opposition to the occupation.

It took four prison terms adding up to 100 days behind bars for the army’s conscientious objection committee to grant her the exemption. Most other conscientious objectors are ultimately discharged for “serious misconduct,” “unsuitability,” or are given psychological exemptions instead of being recognized as conscientious objectors.

Brachfeld, who lives in Tel Aviv, first declared her refusal to serve in the army back in February. She explained her decision at the time in a statement published on Facebook:

Upon leaving prison on Tuesday, Brachfeld said that as an Israeli, she has the responsibility to do “everything I can to stop this cycle of bloodshed. Refusing is my first step.”

Were she a religious Jew, she would have likely been released with little trouble. Secular conscientious objectors, on the other hand, are required to undergo a long and difficult process in the hopes of convincing the army to discharge them. It almost always ends in jail time, which can last up to 150 days.

SUBSCRIBE TO +972 MAGAZINE'S WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

A recently filed lawsuit seeks to challenge the army’s discrimination against secular conscientious objectors, as opposed to those who refuse to join the army for religious reasons.

Brachfeld is one of dozens of Israeli high school students who signed the “2017 Shministim Letter,” and who is being supported by Mesarvot — Refusing to Serve the Occupation, a grassroots network that brings together individuals and groups who refuse to enlist in the IDF in protest at the occupation.

Two additional conscientious objectors, Hillel Grami and Lohar Altman, are expected to declare their refusal to serve in the IDF in the coming weeks.

View article: AAA
Share article

WATCH: Gaza youth dance the dabke in Israeli sniper range

The world continues to ignore their plight so youth in Gaza are trying to find creative, new ways to fight Israel’s siege. Now we can only hope that Israel doesn’t declare dancing a form of terrorism.

Since the above video was published online last Friday, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head: a young Palestinian girl and a handful of boys dancing the traditional dabke along the Gaza-Israel border against a backdrop of plumes of smoke. Perhaps it is because the video manages to encapsulate so much of the story of the occupation and the siege in two-and-a-half minutes: the power dynamics between the occupier and the oppressed, the clenched fist of the former and the determination of the latter.

The video was filmed last Friday during the most recent of the Great Return March protests, which have been taking for three months now. In an interview with Rami Younis a few days before the protests kicked off, organizer Hasan al-Kurd emphasized how the plan was explicitly nonviolent — organizers said they objected to throwing stones and burning tires — and meant to communicate to the world the situation of Gazans living under siege. The organizers also said they wanted to send a message of peace to Israelis.

Indeed, even though Israeli did all it could at the time to paint the protests as violent, terror protests orchestrated by Hamas, and despite the disturbingly high number of protesters the IDF killed and wounded, the demonstrations, with few exceptions, remained nonviolent. As Meron Rapoport wrote last week, in May the Israeli government admitted in court that only 25 out of more than 100,000 protesters had tried to cross or damage Israel’s border fence at the time. No Israeli soldier was wounded during the protests. On the Palestinian side, more than 100 were killed.

And thus Israel proved to the Palestinians yet again that it is deadlier to protest along the border than it is to fire rockets over it. Soon enough, the language of violence once again reclaimed its place as the primary form of communication between Israel and Hamas. Thus, with a lower profile and fewer participants, the weekly demonstrations continue. Gazans are still heading to the border every Friday, risking Israeli sniper fire to remind the world that they are still living...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article